Was Greg Gaslighting? What ‘The Bachelorette’ Can Teach Us About Toxic Habits

Okay yes, we’re still talking about this. But this one has been a real journey and honestly, those of us who have committed to 3-hour, back-to-back, Greg Grippo-focused episodes of The Bachelorette have been through a lot, and the least we could do is learn a lesson at the end of all this. In case you need a reminder (you don’t), recently millions of people watched as Greg Grippo, one of three contestants remaining on season 17 of The Bachelorette, had an intense emotional meltdown when the lead, Katie Thurston, was unwilling to communicate her love to him in a way that felt reciprocal. He said, “You fill a hole in my heart.” She said, “Nice face.” I’m paraphrasing—a little. A meltdown ensued, an unexpected and painful (for all of us) breakup followed, and Bachelor Nation took to the streets (social media and podcasts, primarily), to debate: Team Katie? Team Greg? Was Greg gaslighting or having a justified emotional response? Was Katie cold and withholding? The answer, I think, is yes. Both things, all things. Whatever reaction you had to those horribly uncomfortable breakup scenes likely held some truth, because ending relationships is complicated and messy and usually pretty gross. For the record, as a Master’s-level Counselor with professional experience in relational communication, there are some specific examples of gaslighting behaviors in their interactions and I bet if we got to watch back any of our own breakups, we’d see some gaslighting there too. Humans with big emotions, especially about love and intimacy, will do some wild things to get what they want, including using tactics to confuse and manipulate each other.  

Let’s be clear about one thing, though. While we might not all agree on the level of gaslighting Greg Grippo engaged in here, he most definitely wrote us a playbook for Emotional Manipulation 101. He relies on the narrative that being with Katie is the only thing that’s made him happy in the two years since his dad died. His family and friends then come in to reinforce this, telling Katie that he just hasn’t been himself, but now that she’s here, the Greg they know is back. Yikes. 

I believe them. I believe that Greg is finding joy in this process and that he is genuinely feeling lighter and happier. I don’t think he’s acting (ahem, cue the Meryl Streep moment). I think he’s coming out of very regular, grief-induced depression because he’s had time to heal and now he’s on a TV show with a bunch of dudes he likes to hang with and a cute girl he likes to make out with, mostly in the rain. (In the desert. It’s fine.) But to frame his happiness as solely dependent on Katie is setting a fertile ground for a relationship built on emotional responsibility and caretaking. It’s so much to take on. And it’s manipulative. 

And this, my friends, is a lesson we can all learn. If watching Greg and Katie in these final scenes together felt just a little too familiar, then it’s likely you have experienced emotional manipulation. You’ve probably even done it. Honestly, who hasn’t at some point? A little silent treatment here and there can be pretty passively impactful. Or maybe using the old “Well if you don’t know why I’m upset, I’m not going to tell you!” technique when you can’t articulate the reason for your feelings, you just know you’re having them and someone needs to pay attention ASAP! Storming out of the room during an argument without telling your partner you plan to return? We’ve all done it. These are all forms of emotional manipulation we see Greg use. They aren’t healthy modes of relational communication, but we’ve all done them, haven’t we? We’re all human here. If these are your primary methods of communicating during conflict, then maybe the lesson for you here is to practice something new. Maybe begin practicing expressing your emotions directly and clearly. Maybe examine why it might not feel like you can? We could all probably work on this more, and maybe GG was sent here to inspire us. Get to work! 

Or, hear me out, maybe you watched all this go down and had an even stronger reaction. Maybe you were like me and the familiarity was TOO specific. Maybe, like me, you’ve lived it over and over again. Honestly, any moment of the GG drama could have been picked from any of my previous relationships. This is because I have spent a lifetime choosing partners out of a compulsion to be with highly emotional people who depend on me for emotional caretaking. I have been “Caught in the Grip(po)” of this compulsive cycle without ever even knowing why or how until recently.

It turns out, I have a thing called Love Avoidance. It develops through some specific childhood trauma related to family enmeshment and it manifests into issues with intimacy. There is a range for Love Avoidance, but mine happens to be severe. Unlike avoidant attachment, which people seem to be more familiar with, a Love Avoidant craves intimacy. We don’t run from it—we seek it out. But because in childhood we took on some kind of overly mature role protecting or nurturing our families, we think we can only be loved by people if they need us to manage their emotions or they depend on us to take care of their emotional needs. Like, a lot. In fact, we take this role with so much determination that we become absolutely suffocated by it. Intimacy feels like drowning. Maybe even dying. It’s called Engulfment and we engage in all kinds of avoidant behaviors to find relief from it, but because it’s a cycle, we continue the compulsive behavior of choosing people who need emotional caretaking because they will let us. And then we all end up in the cycle again. It’s pretty torturous for everyone involved.  

The good news, for people who experience some level of Love Avoidance, is that you can recover. The first step is the most difficult one because it requires some brutal honesty about our choices and patterns. But it’s just possible that Greg Grippo can help.

Do you constantly choose a partner with high emotional needs? Are you drawn to the Greg Grippo in the room, someone who needs constant reassurance and/or attention? The person whose eyes seem to be masking something intense and mysterious? Do you always pick partners who have an emotional connection or response to every single thing that happens? Do you feel constantly drained in your relationships but still choose people who just need and take so much from you? Do I sound like a 2am infomercial trying to convince you to buy my self-help program DVD box set? Yes. I do. And I’m sorry, but this could be really important if it’s the first time you’re hearing it!

Before my recovery, I would have been obsessed with Greg. It would have become a full-blown TV crush by the end of the season. From night one, I would have chosen him. He would have had his emotional meltdown and shown his propensity for emotional manipulation, and I still would have chosen him. I would have taken care of all of his emotions and he would have let me until we destroyed each other. We don’t get “Caught in the Grip(po)” over and over again because of “fate” or “true love.” We do it out of compulsion. It took a series of devastating losses (and a lot of therapy) for me to recognize these patterns in my own life. Maybe watching Katie Thurston making a different choice this season will be the start for you.  

Image: Craig Sjodin / ABC

The Best ‘Bachelorette’ Recap You’ll Ever Read: Meryl Streep Would Like To Be Excluded From This Narrative

Welcome back to the best Bachelorette recap you’ll ever read! Can you believe we’ve actually made it to the season finale? That’s right, Katie has narrowed down her list of eligible bachelors to her final two men: Blake and Justin. If those names sound surprising to you, that’s because her selection process was done much like the way I used to select a partner during college at last call: by blindly reaching for whoever was left standing and hoping he wouldn’t puke in the cab ride home. But, you know, I’m sure this will work out great for you, girl!

Last week during Hometowns we watched Katie’s relationship with Greg—arguably the strongest relationship of the season—deteriorate faster than a New Years resolution. Ultimately, I think Greg needed more emotional validation (read: an “I love you”) from Katie and she wasn’t willing to give him that at this stage in the process. This resulted in Greg fleeing the Hyatt in a whirl of flannel and angst, an exit that would have given 13-year-old me a run for my money when I made a similar dramatic departure from a Dillard’s after my first bra fitting, and Katie questioning if she even wanted to finish out the rest of the season with the losers she had left. (I paraphrase.)  

Which brings us to tonight! I think it’s safe to say that the finale felt… anticlimactic? In the sense that no one f*cking cared who actually won Katie’s heart and everyone just wanted to know what the deal was between her and Greg. The first 45 minutes included ABC replaying old footage from the season on loop for the sake of a “recap.” It’s as if ABC expects us all to have the short-term memory of my grandmother, because there’s literally no excuse for them to insist on replaying something we just watched SEVEN DAYS AGO with this much fervor. We just want to see who she chose as her consolation prize and move on with our lives, okay!!

Slim Pickin’s

Katie Thurston and Blake Moynes

Speaking of the consolation prizes, Tayshia and Kaitlyn tell the men that Greg has left the show and that, congratulations, we’re moving directly into a Fantasy Suites/Proposal Day hybrid situation! I will say the horror on Justin’s face at realizing he somehow made it to the final two and will have to propose to a woman his parents couldn’t even be bothered to FaceTime is actually priceless. Don’t worry, buddy! You’ll only have to propose if Blake decides to slide into Claire’s DMs after all! On second thought, maybe you should start Googling “heartfelt proposals” now… 

 

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Pretty quickly it’s established that this game is Blake’s to lose. For a moment there I thought Katie might take Justin to the Fantasy Suites because he’s hot and hasn’t self-eliminated yet and his cum face is probably outrageous, but Katie sends him home before there’s time for him to waggle those eyebrows at her and change her mind. This means that Blake is her first and only Fantasy Suites date and she puts it all on the line. And by “all” I mean the one thing she swore up and down she would not do until a guy got down on his knee and proposed. 

During the dinner portion of the evening Blake fumbles out an “I love you” and Katie, realizing it’s either compromise her morals or have to re-download Hinge, says she loves him too. Excuse me, WHAT. Okay, so let me get this straight. Exactly 24 hours ago, she would not say the “L” word to Greg after he handed her his ravaged heart on a bloody platter AND YET Blake mentions soft kisses once and she relents?!

I’m sorry, but that “I love you” felt strategic AF. Like, that was a giant F*ck You to Greg. Not only did that feel petty and insincere, but if I were Blake watching this back, I’d feel a little used. 

Speaking of Blake, is it just me or does he seem especially out of sorts this episode? It’s like now that Katie has set fire to the entire foundation of this show by combining the fantasy suites with proposal day, his last two brain cells are malfunctioning and refusing to process it. 

TAYSHIA AND KAITLYN: How are you feeling about your proposal?

BLAKE: I feel like scrambled eggs.

Wow. So beautiful. Is that a direct quote from Pride and Prejudice’s Mr. Darcy?

Like, Blake looks positively ill at the thought of proposing and having her accept it by default. But you know what? They go through with it! They grin and bear it and get engaged! A love story for the ages!

Aunt Lindsey Is A National Treasure

One of my favorite parts of last night’s episode was Blake meeting Katie’s family. I love when ABC brings out family members just in general because there’s nothing that feeds my soul quite like watching large amounts of disdain and skepticism. And I knew we’d be in for a real treat when Katie’s mom entered stage right with the Charmed logo tattooed on her cleavage. I hope they make Blake swear his intentions on the Book of Shadows. 

But no one—and I mean NO ONE—stole the show quite like Katie’s Aunt Lindsey did. She was wholly unimpressed with this entire production. A total Phoebe, if you will. And look, Blake’s presence on this show is a hard pill to swallow for most people. For one, it’s not just that he’s trying to find love on reality TV, but that he’s tried to find love on reality TV multiple times. Then there’s the total suspension of disbelief you need to engage in when he discusses his “job” but supplies about as many details about it as a blank MadLib. So, you know, I understand the brazen lack of respect she showed to him. 

I will say, though, Lindsey was the only one really asking the hard questions. My favorites being, “so why do you want the beard” and, “what do you two have in common aside from both owning vibrators?” LINDSEY. YOU SAVAGE. The vibes I’m getting from this family is that they would definitely require a blood oath upon asking for someone’s hand in marriage. How else will they be able to vanquish their enemies?

An icon for the ages

Also, can I just say, it’s probably for the best that Greg self-ejected before this little meet-and-greet with Katie’s family? There is no scenario in which that boy wouldn’t have crumbled beneath the unrelenting gaze of Katie’s aunt. 

Greg’s Final Stand

Katie Thurston Greg Grippo

And now for the real show. Yeah, it was nice to see Katie get engaged and all that, but let’s get to the good stuff: Greg’s return to the stage. During “After the Final Rose,” Kaitlyn and Tayshia brought Greg out to have one final confrontation with Katie. Before I get into this section of the recap, I’m just going to make my stance known: I’m #TeamGreg AND I DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS IT. 

Here’s the thing, I’ve been a long-time fan of Katie’s and, despite what I’m about to say, truly do hope she’s happy with her choice and got the love story she wanted from this franchise. BUT her behavior over the whole Greg thing was outrageous to me. I know a lot of people have been throwing the term “gaslighting” out there and calling for Greg to be drawn and quartered in the town square, but I’m gonna be real with you guys: I just don’t see it. And this is coming from a woman who has a bottomless pit within her specifically reserved for the unending, blistering rage she has toward the male gender! 

Look, do I think Greg overreacted last week? Absolutely. But fundamentally, I think they couldn’t effectively communicate their feelings to each other and because of that a very real connection was severed in the most dramatic of circumstances. Like, I think Greg was contextualizing their relationship as an entity beyond the show. He saw their connection as the real deal and something that went beyond rose ceremonies and cocktail parties. Meanwhile, Katie was wholly invested in this “process” and wanted to see it through to the end. That’s totally fair, by the way, but because of that I don’t think she was looking at their relationship as a thing beyond the show, but rather, as a thing within the show that she was still trying to figure out. The situation sucked, but I don’t think either of them should be vilified for the way they handled it.

Flash forward to ATFR, and Katie is out for blood. During Greg’s one-on-one interview with Tayshia and Kaitlyn he seems sad but ultimately accepting of Katie’s engagement with Blake—despite her throwing out an “I love you” before proposal day. He could have been super petty and snide, but the only person who acted that way last night was Katie. I mean, their confrontation was literally nuts. Katie had so much hostility and anger for someone who is supposedly very happily engaged to the love of her life. 

First, she accuses Greg of never loving her and only being on the show to progress his acting career, to which he replies, “I’m no Meryl Streep.” Look guys, I’m pretty sure Meryl would like to be excluded from this narrative, one she never asked to be a part of since summer of 2021. Also, I love that Katie just believes something that she read on the internet. She’s screaming at him about something she read about on Deux Moi for goodness sake! I’ll say it again, but if she’s soooo happy in her current relationship then shouldn’t this sh*t with Greg not matter?

Then starts in on how she thinks he gaslit her which… agree to disagree I guess. Personally, that was not my take on the situation, though I’ll concede that I’m an outsider looking in and ultimately don’t know the reality of their situation. But he seemed genuine and heartfelt in his feelings for Katie. Again, he could have been extremely petty in how he handled himself on ATFR and he was nothing but respectful to her. Plus, he’s apologized like a million times. What more does she want from him? For him to sacrifice his pinky finger as penance? 

The crowd seemed equally confused about who to root for. Though they gave Katie some half-hearted claps when she called him a gaslighter, the crowd also cheered for Greg after he declared, “I emptied my heart out to you on the couch and all you gave me was a pat on the back.” The thing about Greg is he seems authentic and maybe that’s the acting classes he took in undergrad, but MY GOD, if he were that good of an actor he wouldn’t be on this freaking franchise. Can’t we just leave it at they weren’t right for each other and be done with it?

 

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I think her behavior was so off-putting to me because she made her bones on the franchise by advocating against petty squabbles and bullying behavior, and here she was taking petty jab after petty jab. I know she’s upset and hurt, but I guess I was just expecting her to be kinder about the whole situation? Especially considering she was always the peace maker on Matt James’ season.

Throughout the interview she kept saying this was about MY journey and MY time on the show and it’s like, there are two people in a relationship. It’s not just about you. And poor Blake! He had to go toe-to-toe with Aunt Lindsey like he was facing off a starved lion in a gladiator ring. And for what? If I was Blake and saw this blatant display of rage and unresolved feelings I would have hightailed it off that stage. But, you know, ever happiness to you both!

On that note, I’m out! I would like to never hear or speak of any of these people again unless that person is Andrew S and he would like to finally respond to my DM. *manifests a response through the harnessed power of the Halliwell/Thurston sisters* 

See you hoes on Paradise! Xoxo

Images: Craig Sjodin / ABC (3) @tvgoldtweets /Instagram (1); @thebetchelor /Instagram (1); Giphy (4)

What Happened With Greg On ‘The Bachelorette’ & Why Everyone’s Talking About Gaslighting

Despite the varying casts and locations, there are a few constants viewers can count on in The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. The lead delivers emotional, dramatic monologues (occasionally through tears) about making sure each contestant is tHerE fOr The RiGht rEasOns, but spoiler alert: they rarely are. While some contestants are able to be more subtle about their goal to ultimately become FabFitFun partners or start a podcast, others’ fame-chasing aspirations get exposed. Another point that happens season after season without fail? There’s always someone who, mid-filming, seemingly forgets that the entire premise of the show revolves around one person dating multiple suitors. Fueled by confusion and jealousy (and perhaps the desire for more airtime), that contestant has an on-camera breakdown that’s equal parts perplexing and cringey.

This season, Greg Grippo has proven to be both of those contestants, after a confusing exchange with Katie Thurston and rumors about his acting past surfaced. Greg, who ABC described as “the full package” and “handsome, kind, vulnerable and serious about wanting to settle down,” might be less of the full package and more of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, depending on your interpretation of Monday night’s episode. Fans and Katie alike fell for the New Jersey resident on night one; he received the first impression rose and melted our screens with his steel-cut bod and perfect locks. In the second episode and first one-on-one of the season, he shared an honest conversation with Katie where they bonded over the shared trauma of losing a father. 

But, in another spell of predictability, it turns out the frontrunner may have been a secret villain all along. Greg introduced himself on the show as a marketing sales representative, and although he only listed a Bachelor’s in marketing at Saint Michael’s college on his LinkedIn, he also studied at the prestigious William Esper Studio, a NYC acting school. In May 2019, Greg posted a shot standing outside the school, writing in the caption, “What a journey. Forever grateful for these last two years.”

Bachelor Nation, upon learning Greg might be an actor: 

What is real gif from White Lotus

Was Greg for real, or was acting like he was falling for Katie just method acting? His premature, confusing exit from The Bachelorette has lead some fans to wonder if this was just an audition for his next role. It all went downhill during the franchise’s cheesy excuse for hometowns, when Greg tearfully professed his love for Katie. Her immediate response? “I just love looking at you.” Yikes.

Now, anyone remotely familiar with The Bachelor/ette knows the unofficial rule that prohibits saying “I love you” until the end. Moreover, Katie made it clear from the beginning that she didn’t want to tell any of the guys she loved them until the finale. Nonetheless, she admittedly could have responded with something deeper than “I just love looking at you”. Katie, the man is crying.

The gaffe sent Greg into a tailspin, first outside the hometown date, and then later, when he went to visit Katie at her hotel room. Even though Katie did everything except explicitly tell Greg that he would be her final pick (and before their confrontation, she told his mom, “Greg will 100% be at the finale, I have no question”) Greg later told Katie, “It was never about a rose for me this week, and I was never asking you to confess your love to me. All I was asking for was Katie” He maintained that Katie had dismissed his feelings: “When I said I love you, I felt like I was telling it to a stranger,” he said through tears. While, in her hotel room, Katie scrambled to figure out what, exactly, she’d done wrong and repeatedly apologized, Greg insisted, “I feel like you’re giving me a surface level response.” Ultimately, he decided that Katie had “put up a wall” and said her “whole demeanor shifted”. After telling Katie “I’ve never given up on us”, he left the show. As a reminder, before said scene, Greg stared straight into the camera and said, “ no question in my mind that there can be an engagement at the end of this.” 

Some fans were quick to point out that Greg’s behavior looked like gaslighting, and Katie herself shared a thread of posts about gaslighting on her Instagram stories in the wake of the episode. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse “that causes a victim to question their own feelings, instincts, and sanity”. There are a variety of tactics an abuser might use to gaslight their partner, including countering (which the NDVH explains as “questioning the victim’s memory of events”), trivializing (“making the victim’s needs feel unimportant”), and forgetting or denial (pretending to have forgotten things that occurred or denying they did). 

Bachelor Nation had a lot to say about the confrontation. John, one of Katie’s contestants who was eliminated on night two, wrote on his Instagram stories, “Along with many of you, I watched last night’s episode and was shocked by some of the behavior I witnesses , namely the words and body language exhibited by Greg. Watching these actions get defended (and therefore normalized) strikes me as extremely unhealthy and a step in the wrong direction.” He also pointed out, “It should be noted that an individual can be a good friend to some while simultaneously being harmful to others in another relationship; friendship cannot be an excuse to blindly defend someone’s behavior.”

Bekah Martinez, a contestant on Arie Luyendyk’s season, wrote on Instagram, “I know he opened up to her and she said ‘the wrong thing’ but shutting down emotionally being like, ‘wut, nothing’s wrong why would you think that’ and then punishing with silence is emotional manipulation 101.”

Not everyone agreed with the assessment that Greg’s behavior was manipulative, though. Andrew, another fan favorite on Katie’s season, posted to Twitter, “I care for Katie and Greg very much,” adding, “their love was sooo real! Hate to see Katie like that.” Tre, another contestant of Katie’s, tweeted, “Greg/Justin/Blake slander won’t be tolerated on my TL.” The next day, he followed that up with, “Katie slander OBVIOUSLY won’t be tolerated either.”

Others surmised that maybe this was all an act on Greg’s part. Luke Stone, a contestant on Hannah Brown’s season, tweeted, “I’m getting the strong vibe that Greg is sabotaging this on purpose. If you aren’t into her be a man and tell her you want out rather than gas lighting the situation. My theory: Greg got further than he expected/wanted and pushed the eject button real quick.”

While it seems like Greg has left the show for good, we’ll have to wait until Monday to see what this all means for Katie—and co-host Tayshia Adams told Ryan Seacrest that the rumors about Greg’s acting past “will be addressed”. One thing we do know? After the Men Tell All, the Bachelorette told UsWeekly that her ending is “a first, for sure” and “a shocking ending”. However it shakes out, for now, fans can take comfort in knowing that she’s said, “ultimately I’m very happy with how everything turned out.”

Images: Craig Sjodin/ABC; Giphy